Most everyone has read the Story of Stone Soup which was published for the first time in Eastern Europe in the early 1800’s. If you have forgotten the story it goes pretty much like this:
Once upon a time, there was a great famine which caused everyone to hoard small scraps of food, even hiding them from their friends and family. One day a wandering man came into a village and began asking questions about the possibilities of finding a meal.
"There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on," all the townsfolk told him.
"Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great showmanship he held up a velvet bag and withdrew an ordinary-looking stone from it and dropped it into the water.
His actions created a rumor of food, drawing many of the people from town to watch him stir his pot. As the crowd grew, the man sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips as if a great meal was being prepared. Hunger began to overcome everyone’s reason.
"Ahh," the man said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage -- that's hard to beat."
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. "Capital!" cried the man. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king."
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, with people coming forward with potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.
Of course, the villagers offered the man a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day where he made stone soup for the next village.
Universally, everyone believes that the moral of the Stone Soup Story is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.
While cooperation is an important principle of course, I believe that there is a much more important moral here. We believe that Stone Soup is about SUCCESS and how to achieve it either through cooperation with a team or through the principles of active influence or, if you prefer, skill based leadership. That is a far more powerful moral than simple mindless cooperation.
There are so many different studies done comparing the habits of highly successful people. Having been interviewed for a couple of those studies myself, I saw the limitations in them immediately. Generally, they try to find the common traits among the successful. The problem with this approach is that traits are not causal factors. As an example, we could make a list of the world’s best desserts. Then we could list some traits (ingredients, in this case): eggs, cocoa, vanilla, milk, sugar. Actually, those dessert “traits” don’t really tell you much, as many bad desserts have those very same ingredients or “traits”. The true cook in the kitchen or leader in life knows how to use the ingredients to create a successful outcome. Stone soup does not work automatically!
The truth is that success in life is very simple. It isn’t necessarily easy. But it is simple. There is a difference. Simple means it is potentially doable by most everyone while easy means that most will do it. “Simple but not easy,” by definition means that it something is potentially doable by nearly everyone but very few will actually do it.
Success in relationships is simple. Success in feeling self worth is simple. Success in helping others and being charitable is simple. Success in wealth creation is simple. It is just a matter of understanding and performing according to the proper outline for success. But therein is the problem. Many less successful people want to “do it their own way.” Which is ok, actually, if their way works. But if they have tried their way for a period of years and haven’t reached their pinnacle of success, why not try another method for a few months? What do they have to lose? They haven’t gotten to where they want to be using their methods.
Learning from others is not giving up control. Your own success is still going to be a result of your own work; your own successful application of the principles that you have learned. Whether you grow to create and manage the stone soup in your work and life or just contribute important ingredients, by being part of a team with a purpose, you are more likely to find your success.
Published by Sadie